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CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT is said to be the key to ensuring quality performance and service in the business world.

It is also what distinguishes the exemplary risk managers profiled in this issue and makes them leaders in their profession.

Their drive for continuous improvement can be seen in many areas: identifying and eliminating sources of losses; communicating the goals of risk management throughout their organizations; exploring and developing innovative loss control and risk financing solutions; and constantly expanding their knowledge and abilities while educating those around them.

Not only does this set them apart in their profession, but it also has a very positive effective on their organizations' performance, making them successes in their field and protecting the bottom line.

Risk Manager of the Year Judy Lindenmayer is constantly searching for new directions to take risk management at FMR Corp., while assuring that the organization's risks are adequately protected. She has developed an array of innovative risk financing solutions, including an integrated risk financing program, a multiyear financial insurance program, and even a captive to protect mutual fund investors.

Through her career, Ms. Lindenmayer has pursued and encouraged others in risk management, while also devoting time and energy to the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. at the local and national level.

The members of the 1997 Risk Management Honor Roll also embody top-quality risk management:

John Carney drew on his experience in the structured and disciplined world of law enforcement to create a formal program of operating procedures to minimize National Freight Industries Inc.'s risks. Emphasizing teamwork, Mr. Carney's program overhauled communications, safety procedures and risk financing for the company.

Betsy Kutska has strived to make recreational facilities safer for the public while at the Park District Risk Management Agency. She employs an array of communication tools to gather and spread information and is constantly seeking new risk financing options to lower costs and risks for the self-insurance pool's members.

Russell Opferkuch engineers solutions to potential problems before they become full-blown losses for Bankers Trust Co. To get the job done, he stresses teamwork and staff empowerment, while constantly striving to teach the lessons of risk management both within and outside the organization.

William Powell skillfully communicates the goals and rewards of better safety to employees and management alike at Salt River Project. His successful efforts help the company prepare for coming competition in the utility industry by giving it a risk management edge.

Jeannie Sedwick built a risk management program from the ground up for Wake Medical Center, in the process reaching out to doctors, nurses, hospital personnel and even patients to help them identify and avoid potential problems. She re-engineered the medical center's information system to better track claims and revamped risk financing for lower costs.

The achievements of these six risk managers demonstrate the highest quality in their profession. Their examples will truly help others in risk management on their path to continuous improvement.